Riverside County’s rising number of monkeypox cases led the county public health officer Monday, Aug. 8, to declare a public health emergency.
The Board of Supervisors has seven days to ratify Dr. Geoffrey Leung’s proclamation, which officials said will focus attention on a virus with 59 confirmed or probable cases in the county. On Friday, the county reported 51 cases.
“We have seen the devastating physical effects of Monkeypox on those who have been infected, as well as the emotional toll on partners, family and loved ones,” Leung said in a news release.
“Now is the time for Public Health, our community partners and local leadership to reinforce our commitment to work together to slow and eventually stop the spread of this virus.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 2, public health spokesman Jose Arballo Jr. said the county was reviewing whether to declare an emergency.
No deaths have been reported from the virus, although a number of infected people have been hospitalized.
The county is working with local health providers to provide TPOXX, a monkeypox treatment, for patients at high risk of severe disease from the virus, the news release read. Most patients have not needed TPOXX, the release added.
San Bernardino County had seven confirmed and two suspected cases as of Friday, Aug. 5, county spokesman David Wert said via email. It wasn’t immediately clear Monday afternoon whether that county would declare a public health emergency or if there have been additional cases reported.
Riverside County joins the state and federal governments and Los Angeles County in declaring a public health emergency over monkeypox. The United States had more than 7,500 confirmed cases as of Monday, with 826 of those in California. New York has the most with almost 1,900.
On Monday, Riverside County reported nine new probable/confirmed cases — all in men between 20 and 60 who live in the Coachella Valley.
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and muscle aches. The virus causes a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that turn into scabs before healing.
Monkeypox spreads through contact with infectious sores, scabs or bodily fluids, including during sex and touching materials like clothing and bedding that haven’t been cleaned. It also is spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact.
To prevent monkeypox, public health officials recommend practicing good hygiene; talking to sexual partners about recent illness; being aware of unexplained sores or rashes on a sex partner’s body and using personal protective equipment when caring for infected people.